Pesto is one of my favorite sauces because it elevates anything into a “fancy” dish. Pesto comes from the Italian word, pestare (to grind, pound) and technically refers to anything that is pounded.
Pesto has been around since the Roman times and medieval times, although although we traditionally think of Genoese pesto, where basil is the main ingredient, doesn’t come around until the mid 1800s. (source)
Pesto is classically made with basil, garlic, cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts, but I’ve seen variations with every possible green leaf and every nut. One fun fact about pine nuts is that it can give you Pine Nut Syndrome or “pine mouth” – in which eating pine nuts can cause taste disturbances (a bitter metallic taste), lasting from days to weeks afterwards.
In fact, there’s lots of science journals describing and documenting Pine Nut Syndrome, like Pine mouth (pine nut) syndrome: description of the toxidrome, preliminary case definition, and best evidence regarding an apparent etiology and “Pine mouth” syndrome: cacogeusia following ingestion of pine nuts (genus: pinus). An emerging problem?.
Food science – that’s a pretty fun research area where I’d be happy to volunteer as a subject.
Avocado Toast with Pesto and Egg
2 slices whole grain bread
1 small ripe avocado
pesto, homemade (recipe below) or from jar
3-4 cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the bread slices and toast in toaster oven until golden brown. With a fork, mark your avocado then spread it on top of your toast. Top the avocado with your pesto. Cut your tomatoes in half and set aside.
In a medium hot skillet, lightly grease the pan with olive oil. Crack open your eggs, keeping egg yolk intact, Fry on medium low for about 4-6 minutes. When cooked to desired doneness, place egg on top of your toast. Top with cherry tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups spinach
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup pine nuts (or any toasted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, etc)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional: 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Plae your basil, spinach, olive oil, nuts, and garlic in food processor and pulse until blended. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. Stir in freshly ground black pepper to taste. If you’re ready to use the pesto, mix in the cheese. (Otherwise I leave the cheese out so it preserves longer and wait to add it.) Store in a glass jar or container in the fridge. Spread on toast, mix with pasta, top on your eggs, use in pizza, etc. Enjoy!